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The earlier published proceedings of the Grand Lodge of the United States were printed on a single sheet, in the handbill form; and a bare sufficiency was worked off to supply the then very limited number of lodges in connection. After the pamphlet form had been adopted, a reprint of the former was ordered, in quantity supposed to be ample at the time, but which proved to be wholly inadequate to meet the increased requirements of the Order.
These publications extended no further back than from 1827; and with the exception of the period of the reprint, were sent forth in separate pamphlets for every session or year: and until recently, were without continuity in the paging, thus constituting each issue a distinct volume. The im. propriety of continuing such a course was discovered during 1836, since which time a different one has been pursued. Among the greatest of the vexations attendant on the detached form as a book of reference, was the difficulty of applying to use the index to the contents: rendering in some degree valueless, the labor of its compilation.
The journal of the bodies exercising the functions of “Grand Lodge of the United States," from the organization in 1821 up to 1827, embracing a period of vast importance to all who take interest in the authentic progress of the Order, remained still unpublished. A general anxiety had long manifested itself to obtain access to these records, which together with the deficiency existing in the supply of the previous editions, prompted the adoption of the following resolutions at the session of 1842, viz:
“Resolved, That the Grand Lodge of the United States approve of the re-printing " of the Journal from the commencement, in case any responsible member of the " Order should feel disposed to do it on his account, in which event the Grand Lodge " will subscribe for 100 copies.
“Resolved, That the Grand Secretary be, and he is hereby appointed to revise and cause to be published a correct journal of the proceedings of this Grand Lodge from " its formation, provided that the same be no expense to this body."
Under the sanction and authority of the above, this volume has been prepared with the utmost circumspection. The errors incident to hasty publication in the portion previously printed, have been carefully corrected, and numerous omissions supplied.
The Act of Incorporation from the Legislature of Maryland, and the Constitution and By-Laws as amended to the close of the session of 1843, are prefixed. And an index to the whole body of the work, is appended.
Copious notes have been introduced, as well for the purpose of explaining obscure passages, as for noting important events. Among the latter is the correct date of the institution of each successive Grand Lodge and Grand Encampment, with the list of the first installed Grand Officers. The several constitutions of 1821, 1825, 1829 and 1833, are also inserted in this form, at the periods of their adoption. Special attention has been paid in these notes to the efforts of those who contributed to the early planting of Odd Fellowship in the United States. The most authentic form of information alone having been deemed proper to be relied on, every other species has been avoided : and in no instance has an historical fact been alluded to, unless its authenticity had been sustained by more than a single witness, except events of record. As for example—in coursing the progress of “Shakspeare Grand Lodge, No. 1,” trace is acknowledged to be lost from 1811 to 1818, although in possession of a newspaper published in the city of New York, on September 20th, 1813, entitled “The Columbian,” which contains among its advertisements, the following:
"ODD FELLOWS. " You are requested to attend in your Lodge Room, on Tuesday night, the 21st "inst. without fail, at Brother Moore's, P. N. G., at seven o'clock precisely, for the "election of officers and other business. Per order of committee.
Stranger Odd Fellows are invited." The nameless lodge held at the house of “ Brother Moore, P. N. G.," is doubtless the same that was left in ssion re in 1811, and which was revived at the same place in 1818: but preferring to exclude everything which might not be received as fair testimony by the impartial, no allusion is made to this notice, although it bears testimony to the existence of a lodge at that time.
The shortness of the period allowed for the collection of materials for this portion of the present edition, may retard a more full disclosure of the earliest organization of the Order in this country than might be desirable : for, although much valuable information has in a limited time been obtained on the subject, doubtless much more has yet to be learned.
In addition to the authentic memoranda furnished of the original establishment of the Order successively at New York, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Charleston, apochryphal claims have been presented of the exis. tence of a lodge in Baltimore about 1802: and of another in the state of Connecticut, in 1799. But at present they are so entirely destitute of validity, allusion is only made to show that such claims are set up. Brother John Duncan, a colleague of P. G. Sire Wildey in forming " Washington Lodge, No. 1,” in 1819, stated at that time, that “ he was initiated in Baltimore, seventeen years before."
While referring to those original lodges, it should be borne in mind that the “ Independent Order" was not organized as a separate body un:il
1814; and did not assume its present form until 1822, hence most of the early lodges were commenced as of the Ancient” branch of the Order
r; those which survived sufficiently long to fall in with “Washington Lodge, No. 1," thereby became identified with the “Independent Order," a connection which a portion of them professed to hold previously.
In this place, it is proper that the compiler of these data should in the broadest manner disclaim any design to affect injuriously the fair fame of him who is justly entitled to the distinction of “the Father of American Odd Fellowship.” To endeavour to conceal historical truth, might for a season operate adversely, and dim the lustre of his services : but a candid exposition of all circumstances attendant on the planting and growth of the Order in the country, can have no other effect than to show in bold relief, the inefficiency of the action of those, who had been in possession of the field before him, or were contemporary with him, when contrasted with the services he has rendered.
The efforts of P. G. Sire Thomas Wildey, were not circumscribed by the narrow limits of location ; his enlarged views and active mind could not be satisfied with the mere institution of a lodge, to flourish it for a short season, and then to rest from further exertion, until the work of his hands should pine away and die. His course was restless and onward: after building up a fair fabric at home, and acquiring for it unsurpassed strength, bis attention was undividedly directed to the extension of the Order throughout the land, and the improvement of its condition. Those who preceded him in the work, failed by reason of being destitute of those peculiar traits, which though humble, were efficient in acquiring for him the enviable honor of having mainly contributed to its present extended spread, its perfect organization, and commanding influence in the community. Independent of all former efforts, the Order as it is, stands a monument to his peculiar capacity, and untiring industry.
In selecting embellishments, an eye has been principally directed to such as would likely be most acceptable to the Order at large. Consisting of the portraits of the several brethren who have been called to administer the highest office : and of the universally respected Grand Corresponding Secretary of the Grand Lodge of the United States. The style in which these have been gotten up is highly creditable to the taste and skill of Brother Charles H. Smith, the talented young artist, who in this production makes his first appeal to public attention.
ACT OF INCORPORATION.
An Act for the incorporation of the Grand Lodge of the United States
of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. $1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Maryland, That John A. Kennedy, Horn R. Kneass, Andrew E. Warner, James L. Ridgely, I. D. Williamson, Isaac Heffley, William Warren, John E. Chamberlain, Richard Marley, Howell Hopkins, N. B. Leidy, Alanson Cook, Thaddeus Davids, Mark P. Taylor, Samuel Lucas, s. Vn Sickell, Robert Neilson, Thomas Wildey, William Bayley, Charles W. Bradley, John C. McKeldon, and Jacob Hull, Jr.
, the present Officers and Representatives in the Grand Lodge of the United States of the independent Order of Odd Fellows, and their successors, be and they are hereby declared to be a community, corporation and hody politic, by the name and style and title aforesaid, and by that naine they and their successors, shall and may at all times hereafter be capable in law, to have, receive and retain to them and their successors, property real and personal, also devises or bequests of any person or persons, bodies corporate or politic, capable of making the same, and the same at their pleasure to transfer or dispose of, in such manner as they may think proper: Provider always, That the said corporation or body politic, shall not at any time hold or possess property, real, personal or mixed, exceeding in annual value the sum of twenty thousand dollars.
$ 2 And be it enacted, That the said corporation and their successors by the name and style and title aforesaid, shall be forever thereafter capable in law to sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, answer and be answered unto, defend and be defended, in all or any courts of justice, and before all and any judge, officers or persons whatsoever, in all and singular actions, matters or demands whatsoever.
$ 3. And be it enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the said corporation to have a common seal for their use, and the same at their will and pleasure to change, alter and make anew, from time to time as they may think best, and shall in general have and exercise all such rights, privileges and immunities, as by law are incident or necessary to corporations, and what may be necessary to the corporation herein constituted.
We hereby certify that the aforegoing is a true copy of the original law, which passed both branches of the General Assembly of Maryland, at December Session, 1841.
Given under our hands, at the city of Annapolis, this 10th day of February, 1842.
J. NICK WATKINS, Clk. House Del., Md.